There were two high scoring games last night. The Capitals were looking to tie the series and force a game 7 against the Penguins. The Canucks were also attempting to keep their playoff dreams alive against the Blackhawks. Only one of these teams lasted long enough to live another day.
Washington 5 @ Pittsburgh 4 (OT) – This is the NHL’s dream come true. The most-hyped NHL series of this season is pushed to the ultimate showdown in game 7. The epic saga between Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby has fans everywhere on the edge of their seats. While all the attention were focused on the big names, it was actually David Steckel of the Capitals that scored the game winning goal a little over six minutes into overtime. Earlier in the overtime frame, Washington’s playoff journey could have come to an end but Robert Scuderi rattled a shot off the crossbar. The clang provided Varlamov some support while keeping the Caps alive. Last night’s game certainly lived up to all the hype as the lead changed 4 times as the action shifted back and forth. Bill Guerin, Mark Eaton, Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby had a goal each, but it wasn’t enough to topple the Capitals. Viktor Kozlov had 2 goals while Tomas Fleischmann and Alexander Semin had a goal each. Semin had the second most goals for the Capitals during the regular season, but he was offensively absent in this series until this game. In the battle of the goaltenders, Varlamov had a slightly better night as he stopped 38 of 42 shots. Meanwhile Marc-Andre Fleury had a lackluster performance when he only deflected 19 of 24 shots. Fleury really needs to step up the game if he wants his team to make it to the next round of the playoffs.
Series tied at 3-3
Vancouver 5 @ Chicago 7 – The Canucks saw their playoff dreams come crashing down as they blew a 5-4 lead when the Blackhawks rallied back in the third period. It was the young stars of the Blackhawks that stole the show last night as Patrick Kane recorded a hat trick while captain Jonathan Toews got a pair of goals himself. Kris Versteeg and Adam Burish added a goal each as well. The Canucks did have some offensive power. Daniel Sedin netted two goals while Mats Sundin, Mason Raymond and Shane O’Brien had a goal each. However, that was not enough to stop a younger, quicker Chicago team. When Chicago’s Troy Brouwer was called for goaltender interference with just under eight minutes remaining, Daniel Sedin scored quickly to put the Canucks ahead 5-4. Kane responded 45 seconds later to tie the game. The Blackhawks put an end to the Canucks’ run for the cup as Jonathan Toews would score the game winner 49 seconds after Kane’s goal. Patrick Kane would then add another goal to contribute to his hat trick with less than 4 minute left in the game. Neither goalie put up a good game as Luongo only made 23 saves from 30 shots while Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 33 or 38. Vancouver’s inability to shut down the young guns of the Blackhawks was their downfall. The Canucks defense and their penalty kill struggled as the Blackhawks were 3 of 4 on the powerplay for the night.
The last Canadian team has been eliminated, so it will be at least another year before the Stanley Cup returns to a Canadian team. Meanwhile the Blackhawks will be making their first appearance in the conference final since 1995. With last night’s victory, they wait for the winner of the other western conference semi-final between Anaheim and Detroit.
Chicago wins the series 4-2
Three Stars of the Night:
1. Jonathan Toews(Chicago)
2. Patrick Kane (Chicago)
3. David Steckel (Washington)
Boston at Carolina – Carolina leads the series 3-2 (TV: TSN, Versus)
Detroit at Anaheim – Detroit leads the series 3-2 (TV: TSN, Versus)